International Volunteers Day: Meet Tara

Meet Tara Fisher a Fairtrade activist in Llanelli and a recent volunteer at the International Fair Trade Towns Conference (IFTTC) we held in October 2019.

“I have been a volunteer for Fairtrade for 10 years since I moved back to the UK from France. I was living in Hampshire at the time and as I moved around , I helped out in Gosport, Havant and Portsmouth Fairtrade. By doing so I learned a great deal about what was required to achieve and maintain Status. I also had a great deal of fun and made some really good and loyal friends. I then moved to Llanelli in South Wales where Carmarthenshire is a Fairtrade County and Carmarthen, Ammanford and Newcastle Emlyn are Fairtrade Towns. Unfortunately Llanelli had not succeeded in gaining Fairtrade Status when they applied in 2008. So the work began again when I arrived in 2017. I realised that Llanelli could not be a Fairtrade Town as it did not have enough Fairtrade. So I took the whole constituency with its 5 Community Councils, 1 Town Council and 1 Rural Council in support and worked towards making it a Fairtrade Zone. This was a success so Llanelli finally had Fairtrade Status.”

Why I volunteered for Fair Trade Wales

So when I was asked to volunteer for the IFTTC by Fairtrade Wales, I jumped at this fantastic opportunity. For me, it was an extension to my Fairtrade role,hoping to meet and get to know other Fairtraders around the world and learn from them. I wanted to gain more ideas on how to develop awareness in Llanelli and I did!!!

All Fairtraders are volunteers working in their home towns like me. It is something I am very proud of, spreading the awareness of Fairtrade and encouraging more and more people to buy Fairtrade products to help farmers in the developing world. I feel a sense of achievement.

I was there for the whole time living in the sports village in Cardiff and walking to City Hall every day through the park. I was involved in helping to set up the hall,meeting and greeting,noting on a map where people had come from, selling t-shirts,being on duty to help delegates, using my languages to translate for people.

I made contacts with a Swedish group and we are already keeping in touch and we want to work together to try to link up with a co-operative in Africa. We have already been given very recently £2500 by Wales for Africa to develop this.

Next steps

My next steps and goals are to continue developing ideas taken from the conference to make the people of Llanelli truly and actively aware of Fairtrade. I have already negotiated with the area manager for the Co-op and I now have several people I can call on at any one time to help me. The big step is to work with the Swedish group and hopefully an African Fairtrade Co-operative and form a working trio using the Wales for Africa money. It is all very exciting.

Any volunteering highlights?

The conference was so so useful for me but also a great deal of fun. I met the Swedish group on the bus coming back from the Senedd dinner. I was a bit drunk and had enjoyed myself immensely. I was making them all laugh at my antics on the bus, as well as the bus driver, and the next day at the conference, they came to find me, full of smiles and we’ve been friends ever since.

The other funny moment was when I was on duty selling t-shirts. I have a fitness watch and I needed to continue moving so I made the security chap laugh as I was doing my laps around the entrance hall. He then said, “Go up and down them stairs. That’ll be good for you. I’ll watch the t-shirts and give you a shout when you’re needed. Go on, get a move on”. So that’s what I did.

Advice to volunteers

I think my advice to a volunteer would be to be flexible and help wherever you can and enjoy the experience at the same time. I got a massive amount out of volunteering at the conference but particularly the inspiration to keep going in Llanelli”.

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